According to state officials, Aaron and Melissa Klein, co-owners of the bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, dropped off a check Monday for $136,927.07 to the Bureau of Labor and Industries in fulfillment of a fine handed down to them in July for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding ceremony. That hefty sum was reportedly in addition to the $7,000 the couple paid the government earlier this month.
The dispute between the Kleins and Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, the lesbian couple who filed the complaint, began back in January of 2013. According to Melissa, the bakery has serviced the women before but apologetically told them that supplying a cake for their gay wedding would go against their religious convictions. Subsequently, the lesbian couple filed a complaint with the state, sparking a national debate over the balance of religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws.
"Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian awarded the damages nearly six months ago, saying the owners had violated the women’s civil rights by discriminating on the basis of their sexual orientation," reported Fox News. "A 2007 Oregon law protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The state ruled it also bars private businesses from discriminating against potential customers."
The damages awarded to the couple ranged from "emotional" to even physical distress supposedly caused by the bakery refusing to bake their cake.
In the video above, Klein maintains that his religious liberty was breached and suggests that his freedom of speech was violated too. Aaron was likely referring to the gag order placed on the bakery owners which "prohibited them from speaking publicly about their refusal to participate in or bake wedding cakes for same-sex marriages."
Although Aaron and his wife Melissa paid the fine, they are still hopeful for a successful appeal, which is slated for next year.
The Kleins were forced to close their business and remain in litigation over the suit. Aaron is now working as a garbage man and has said that the couple brings home about half the income they brought home from the bakery.
Many on the left are not sympathetic to the Kleins' plight. "Will anti-gay Christians be politically and socially ostracized? I sure hope so. Just as those orthodox Christians who still believe in strict, traditional gender roles have been increasingly mocked as absurd," wrote liberal pundit Sally Kohn this past July in a piece for The Daily Beast.
Kohn’s desire for traditional-minded Christians to be "politically and socially ostracized” has seemingly been surpassed. Those with religious convictions that don’t align with the liberal "moral good" are now being run out of business and fined too, all at the behest of government and in direct opposition to the First Amendment.
Top video via The Daily Signal.